PLA Daily: US Withdrawal from INF Treaty Will Jeopardize Int'l Strategic Stability
(Source: China Military Online; issued Dec 11, 2018)
By Feng Ying
The Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Andrea L. Thompson reiterated on 6 December that the United States demanded Russia to scrap the SSC-8 (Russia reporting name 9M729) land-based cruise missile system in 60 days, and this is the only way for Russia to get back 'to full and verifiable' compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on December 4, has warned that the United States will suspend its obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance with the INF Treaty.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers said that the United States will withdraw from the INF Treaty if Russia does not begin to fulfill its obligations under the treaty within 60 days.

Signed by the two leaders of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on December 8 1987, the INF Treaty (formally Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles) stipulates that the two countries should not possess, produce or flight-test land-based cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with a range capability of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty is the first treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union to cut down on their nuclear arms since the emergence of nuclear weapons, which is regarded as an important step for the two sides to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The United States has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty and threatened to withdraw from the treaty. However, Russia firmly denied the accusation and countered that the United States is in violation of the treaty. Vladimir Shamanov, head of the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Defense Committee, said in Moscow on December 6 that Russia has never tested a missile violating the INF Treaty, and Russia does not accept the United States' ultimatum to resume the implementation of the treaty. Sergey Ryzhkov, head of the Russian Defense Ministry's Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, pointed out in May this year that the United States has produced a series of short-and medium-range ballistic missiles as targets for its development of anti-missile system. In terms of tactical performance indicators including flight distance, these missiles should be prohibited based on the INF Treaty.

In fact, this is not the first time that the US withdrew from treaties. In 2002, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1972. The US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty completely removed obstacles for its large-scale development and deployment of missile defense systems.

However, that does not fulfill the US' ambition. A new edition of the Nuclear Posture Review released by the US Department of Defense in February pointed out that the United States should develop more types of nuclear weapons, enrich its nuclear strike measures, and enhance its nuclear deterrence, so as to ensure its "unrivaled" nuclear capabilities. Following the announcement of the defense budget increase, the military reconstruction, and the establishment of US Space Force, US President Donald Trump said in July this year that the United States is building the most powerful nuclear arsenal. Obviously, Trump seeks to maintain the absolute leading position of the US military strength, and the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty can further "untie" its development of nuclear weapons.

If the United States kept on "withdrawal" to fulfill its "absolute security" obsession, the global strategic balance will be greatly undermined and the international community will face greater systemic security risks.

During the Cold War, hindered in security dilemmas, the United States and the Soviet Union both reduced their strategic weapons. The "armistice" enabled Europe, one of the main battlefields of the US and Russia, to maintain security and stability. At present, once the United States "withdraws" from the treaty, it is likely to produce and deploy short-and medium-range missiles in Europe or the Asia Pacific region. Russia will inevitably adopt corresponding countermeasures.

The countries in the relevant regions will also have to strengthen their own armament construction, and invest mass resources to purchase and invent missiles and anti-missile systems. Europe, the first to bear the brunt, will either rely more on the United States or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or strengthen its own military power. Once the "post era of intermediate-range missile" comes, so to speak, the strategic balance will be upset and the arms race elevated.

In the world today, security issues are very sensitive, and the interests of all countries are intertwined, therefore, the right way for us is to solve through "consultation". In this sense, emphasizing "common responsibility" is more valuable and significant than adhering to unilateralism. Force can protect, but also harm. The world are safer with the military force restricted.

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